There’s something magical about Costco. My mom will scoff at this next statement, but I swear on my dog that it’s true — I love going to Costco as much as I love going to Nordstrom Rack. We’re over an hour from the closest one so I thought about the possibility that its distance from us serves to prove the old adage of “distance makes the heart grow fonder,” but we have a Sam’s Club within a reasonable drive and it doesn’t hold a candle to Costco. Friends of ours who haven’t discovered the joy of bulk shopping always make the same airy dismissal: “I could never use that much produce. It would rot before I got around to eating it” as though to somehow suggest that my husband and I regularly consume fermented tuna fish or rotted potato chips. Sure, if you bought a 55 gallon drum of milk or cottage cheese (they don’t actually offer milk or cheese in that quantity, I’m just being dramatic) it would surely go bad. But it’s completely within reason for a small family, even just a couple who has certain staple needs, to find (and use!) almost everything they need in bulk. A lot can be frozen until called for, and because I don’t generally use cow’s milk, the 3-packs of soy milk I buy stay easily within their “use by” dates, which are a little suspect, themselves. Believe it or not, we can go through six heads of romaine when we’re really on a salad kick and the mushroom soup I like to make requires a lot of mushrooms.
But if there is a downside to shopping and buying in bulk, it would be that I tend to accumulate certain ingredients. Dried, long lasting items like quinoa, oats, beans, and rice have a regrettable habit of being forgotten. It isn’t that I’ve banished those types of food from our diet, it’s more that every time I visit Costco, I see another variety that I must have immediately, thus relegating other options to the darker and slightly more out of arm’s reach depths of the pantry. And because I don’t eat oatmeal for breakfast every morning, there’s been a 3lb, 2 oz (I weighed it for you, reader) bag of it sitting there, for months, patiently awaiting its moment of glory.
Well, I’m happy to announce that rolled oat’s day has come. These cookie bars are packed with flavorful and healthful ingredients and are perfect for grabbing one or two on your way out the door, just like I did for the two of us this morning. Because of their nature, you could easily substitute any type of fruit or nut, and they’ll benefit from additions like coconut, flax or chia seeds, and experiments with the nut butter of your choice. And, as long as whatever nut butter you use is free of animal fats, this recipe is vegan.
Protein-Rich Granola Cookie Bars
3 cups rolled old-fashioned oats
1 cup roasted edamame
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
2/3 cup brown rice protein powder
1 cup applesauce
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
pinch of kosher salt
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees
Grease an 9 by 12-inch baking dish, making sure that bottom and sides are well covered. Line your dish with parchment paper if you’d like to make clean-up easier.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir, making sure that the nuts, seeds, and fruits are all well distributed throughout the peanut butter and oats. Pour into the baking dish, and press into corners using your fingers to create an even layer of the mix across the bottom. Bake for 45 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to become golden-brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool in the baking dish on a rack for 2-3 hours until completely cool before cutting. Serve at room temperature, or cut into squares and freeze for later, allowing time to thaw before serving. I’ll grab a few from the freezer and tote them to school with me to eat between classes.